A Dozen Ways to have a Win with NaNoWriMo


A Trophy With An A++ On It.
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These were my goals for NaNoWriMo 2010:

  1. To register and sign up for my first InterNational Novel Writing Month
  2. To aim for a minimum of 3000 words per day.
  3. To switch my internal editor to Mute (tried to send her on vacation, she did not take the hint – told me all the flights were booked already with internal editors)
  4. To write consistently every day.
  5. To plot a novel before writing it.
  6. To create at least 3 strong characters.
  7. To finally finish a complete novel.
  8. To get to 50,000 words by end of day 15.
  9. To stretch my writing challenge and write in a genre/style I had not tried before.
  10. To gain a larger network of writer friends.
  11. To have fun.
  12. To do what I most love to do in the world.


I can happily say that I have fulfilled 11 of these goals. I am still working on goal # 7. At the end of Day 12, I reached a word count of 50,029. Considering that I took two breather days after reaching the 30,000 mark, I am very pleased with my first NaNoWriMo attempt and now success. Prior to NaNoWriMo I was writing about 2000 words a day. Since starting the adventure that is NaNoWriMo, I am writing on average 5000 words a day.

My initial thoughts with this challenge were whether I would find enough to write consistently each day. On top of that, I had to turn off my internal editor. As stated above, I did try to book an island getaway for her but either the islands were sealed off for the purposes of NaNoWriMo or the flights were overbooked and there were no seats left. So I have let her hang around but have remote-controlled her: I muted her. She may not be happy but I am getting the words down on the paper every day with or without her help.

Another way to have a win with NaNoWriMo is to give yourself a breather day. This is a day when you try (I know you don’t always) to not think about the novel you are writing and delve into complete non-writerly pursuits. The outdoors are perfect for such a day. There is nothing quite like taking a walk. It does not have to be a long walk either. Just get yourself out of the house and stretch those legs out. If you live near a large expanse of water; Ocean, River, Waterfall, lake, even better. Flowing water works like magic on tired mental muscles. The movement of water seems to be a synergy that magically unlocks stray imagination strands.

We are almost at the end of week 2, which means if you have not got there yet you are almost at the half-way point of the month and the challenge. You will notice that I am using the word “Challenge” instead of “Competition”. I am using this word very deliberately because in a competition you can only have two groups, winners and losers. Anyone who has signed up for NaNoWriMo this month is a winner. It took courage to sign up and register. But this month is a challenge. It is not just the word count but actually making the time every day to write. The added challenge of NaNoWriMo is that there is no “prize” as such. You do it for yourself. You do it to see if you can.

I have been reading a lot of posts lately on various sites as well as on the NaNo forums themselves of people beginning with a shout and bang and now hitting fizzle stage in week 2. Now I am going to throw two words at you. Are you ready?

  • Fizzle
  • Sizzle

Phonetically the words are virtually identical except for a very important difference: the first letter. What a difference one letter makes to one word. I want you to turn around your Fizzle into a Sizzle. Remember that you are already a winner. If you have been writing almost every day for 12 days, that is a Sizzling Win in my book. If you have never finished any of your writing but signed up for NaNoWriMo anyway, that is a Sizzling Win. If you signed up for NaNoWriMo in order to chase the dream of becoming a novelist, that is a Sizzling Win. Now look at yourself. Do you feel the fizzle becoming a Sizzle? It is only Day 13, 12 in some parts of the world. You still have more than 2 weeks left to turn this around. You are already almost at the half way point. Prove those nay-sayers in your life wrong. You can do this. You just have to believe in yourself. Also, do not compare yourself to other writers. This is not a competition against others. This is a challenge for You against You.

Another way to turn what feels like a Fizzle into a Sizzle: take this novel one word at a time. Take this month one day at a time. Break your day up into small word sprints, setting yourself a slightly higher goal each word sprint. Have word wars with friends or writer groups. One fellow writer and friend wrote that she believes there is some sort of magical synergy that is created when a group do something simultaneously. I believe there is definitely something there. I have been doing daily word wars with the Facebook group – NaNoWriMo Warriors – and this has spurred my daily writing onto even higher goals and larger word count totals.

I have also been reading many posts that say the story is not going in the direction you, the writer, wants it to go. Perhaps there is a reason why it seems to be taking another path. Sometimes the most interesting routes are the routes that you have not planned for. NaNoWriMo is supposed to promote free-stream writing. It is the one time when you are expected to turn off the internal editor and just write for the love of the story. If your characters are taking you down different pathways, go down the pathway with them. What you may find may not only surprise you but it may also delight you. After all, didn’t you create the characters, their bright ideas come from another part of You…so go with the flow. Sometimes it takes greater sensibility to just swim with the current instead of fighting it and tiring yourself out or giving you writer’s cramp.

Go easy on yourself. You are a writer. You are already partaking in this challenge. Enjoy this challenge. Reward yourself every time you reach a particular goal post or better a particular word war count. Rewards are very important. Remember also you write because you love writing. So turn down the temperature on your pressure cooker and let your stories sizzle with flavour. Most of all, the most important way to have a Win with NaNoWriMo:

 

HAVE FUN!

Happy Writing….listen to that sizzle, forget the fizzle!


© All rights reserved Kim Koning.

10 Comments

  1. Congrats on getting to 50K!

    Thanks for that encouraging read. I’m actually ahead right now (44K) but have challenged myself to finish a novel in November rather than just reach 50K and I’m starting to hit a fizzling point. I will try to focus on the sizzle now!

  2. Yes, excellent post, Kim! Enjoyed it and have highlighted it so I can find it again to read when my internal editor is pushing her way out of a drawer.
    Congratulations on reaching so many of your goals in this November Challenge! 🙂

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